Ways of Darkness
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Etrandish language

From Ways of Darkness
Language: English
RegionEtrand, Keldorn
Native speakers
~4 600 000 (831)
Early forms
High Elven
Language codes
ISO 639-3

The Etrandish language is a Human language first spoken in the territories that would become the Kingdom of Etrand by 0 BEKE/AEKE. It reached it's currently recognizable and intelligible form roughly around 600 AEKE, but changes are still ongoing.

At this point, Etrandish has became the lingua franca of global trade, turning from a borrowing language into a loaning language, extending the language beyond the boundaries of the Kingdom of Etrand

Evolution from Middle Etrandish


  • The voiceless stops and affricates /p t t͡s t͡ʃ k kʷ/ became aspirated [pʰ tʰ t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ kʰ kʷʰ]
  • Modally voiced stops and affricates /b d d͡ʒ g gʷ/ partially lost their voicing word-initially and word-finally, becoming slack-voiced (completely devoiced in northern dialects)
  • In uneducated speech, coda-position nasals /m n ŋ/ merged into a new phoneme /ɴ/ at the ends of words
  • In all dialects but Standard Etrandish, the voiceless /ʍ/ merges with the voiced /w/


  • The laxing of short /i y u/ to [ɪ ʏ ʊ] has become fully accepted as standard and spread to diphthongs too.
    • /ui̯/, /ɛi̯/, /ɐi̯/, /ɔu̯/ and /ɐu̯/ shifted to [ʊɪ̯], [eɪ̯], [ɐɪ̯], [oʊ̯] and [ɐʊ̯].
    • /øː/ and /øi̯/ merged as [øʏ̯]
  • Diphthongization of long close-mid vowels:
    • /eː/ and /oː/ diphthongized to [eɪ̯] and [oʊ̯]
    • /øː/ and /œi̯/ merged as [øʏ̯]
    • The long open-mid vowels /ɛː ɔː/ remained unchanged
  • Shift of /ɒːl/ to /ɔːl/
    • The cluster /ɒlk/ became /ɔːk/
    • /ɒl/ also became /ɔl/ before the consonants /n t d/.
  • Shift of /ɒːr/ to /ɔːr/, eliminating historical distinction with /ɐu̯r/ (which shifted to /ɔːr/ 400 years before)
    • /ɒr/ remained unchanged
  • Merger of /ɪr ʏr ʊr/ to /ər/ in all except the Northern dialects


  • The dative case for nouns and pronouns alike completely falls out of use.
  • For regular nouns (not pronouns), the genitive case also falls out of use - replaced by the preposition "ven" -, except in formal speech and certain phrases, like "Etranden Réct" (Kingdom of Etrand).



In Etrandish, the construction of a syllable is /(O)(O)(S)V(S)(S)(O)(O)/, O standing for Obstrudent (stop, fricative, affricate), L standing for sonorant (nasal, rhotic, lateral approximant, semivowel), and V standing for vowel. There are some limitations however.

  • Syllable-initially, two stop or affricate consonants cannot follow each other in the same syllable. Only stop-fricative and fricative-stop clusters are allowed (not counting the optional glide or rhotic that may follow).
    • Syllable-initially, fricative-stop clusters are only tolerated if they are voiceless. Clusters like /zb zd zg/ are not tolerated, only /sp st sk/.
    • In native Etrandish vocabulary, stop-fricative clusters also take place in their voiceless forms, but voiced clusters like /bz dz gz/ are in fact tolerated in foreign loanwords, such as the personal name Gzaxia.
  • Only up to two sonorants may form a cluster within a single syllable. Such a cluster can only be followed by a fricative within the same syllable. It may not be followed by a stop or affricate consonant, unless it is in the following syllable.
  • Sonorant-clusters can only exist at syllable coda, not the syllable onset.
  • Some consonants - such as the velar nasal /ŋ/ - can only take place in the syllable coda, never at the offset.
    • The placeless nasal /ɴ/ - which only occurs in lower-class dialects - appears only at the end of words, and only when following a vowel.

Now that we know how Etrandish syllables are structured, we also need to realize that Etradish also has sandhi - in other words, if a syllable is followed by a syllable that begins with a vowel (has no initial consonants), the first syllable's last consonant gets transferred over to the second syllable. This also extends beyond word boundaries. For example, /kɔl.dɛr/ (Calder) is pronounced [kʰɔłdəɹ] in isolation, while /eɪk/ (may, might, possibly) is always [eɪ̯k]. Come them together, and instead of [kʰɔłdəɹ‿eɪk], we get [kʰɔłdər‿reɪk] or [kʰɔłdərːeɪk]. The explanation is that /kɔl.dɛr/ + /eɪk/ equals /kɔl.də reɪk/, not /kɔl.dər eɪk/. Normally, the end result would produce a single flapped [ɾ] instead of the geminated trill [rː], but since this is the combination of two words, the /r/ gets treated as a word-initial /r/ - a trill. The only exception to this is if the final vowel of the first word is long, in which case a flapped [ɾ] is produced instead.

Other than /r/, /l/ also becomes geminated, if a word ending with it is followed by a word starting with a vowel - so long as the first word's final syllable has a short vowel, that is, as a long vowel would block the gemination. Stops, fricatives and nasals - other than /ŋ/ - simply get transferred over without any gemination. /ŋ/ inserts a /g/ onto the following word instead.


This is about Standard Etrandish phonology. If you want to read about dialects, see Etrandish dialects.
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Placeless
Plain Sibilant Plain Labialized
Nasal m n (ŋ) ɴ*
Stop Voiceless p~pʰ t~tʰ t͡s~t͡sʰ t͡ʃ~t͡ʃʰ k~kʰ kʷ~kʷʰ
Voiced b̥~b d̥~d d̥͡ʒ~d͡ʒ g̊~g
Fricative Voiceless f θ* s ʃ (x~ç)
Voiced v ð* z
Approximant l (ʎ) j w ʍ h~ɦ
Rhotic r~ɾ~ɹ~ɻ~ʀ~ʁ*
  • /ʎ/ appears only in loanwords, and most Etrandish-speakers have difficulty pronouncing it. Even educated speakers tend to replace it with /j/ or /lj/.
    • /VʎːV/ may be pronounced as either [VʝːV] or [Vɪ̯.jV]. /ɪʎːV/ may become [iː.jV]
  • /h/ has a relatively large amount of allophones depending on their position:
    • Voiceless glottal approximant [h] word-initially, and after nasals, voiceless stops and voiceless fricatives
    • Voiced glottal approximant [ɦ] between two vowels
      • [ɦ] doesn't occour after voiced stops and fricatives because /h/ causes said voiced stops and fricatives to devoice, due to regressive assimilation
    • Voiceless velar fricative [x] between a back/central vowel and a voiceless stop, fricative or word boundary. Some speakers may use a voiceless uvular fricative [χ] instead.
    • Voiceless palatal fricative [ç] between a front vowel and a voiceless stop, fricative or word boundary
    • Voiced velar fricative [ɣ] between a back / central vowel and a voiced stop or fricative. Some speakers may use a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] instead.
    • Voiced palatal fricative [ʝ] between a front vowel and a voiced stop or fricative.
  • The voiceless /ʍ/ is present only in conservative speech. In every other variant, it is merged with the voiced /w/.
  • The voiceless stops and affricates /p t t͡s t͡ʃ k kʷ/ are aspirated [pʰ tʰ t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ kʰ kʷʰ] when not in the syllable coda or proceeding a sibilant.
    • There is no aspiration in conservative speech.
  • The voiceless stops /p t k/ are typically unreleased [p̚ t̚ k̚] in the syllable coda
    • In emphatic speech, they may be aspirated [pʰ tʰ kʰ] instead
  • The voiced stops and affricates /b d d͡ʒ g gʷ/ are slack-voiced [b̥ d̥ d̥͡ʒ g̊ g̊ʷ] word-initially and word-finally.
    • In the dialects of Northern Etrand, they may be completely devoiced [p t t͡ʃ k kʷ] in these environments. This is a marked feature of the stereotypical Steelhelm accent.
    • Modally voiced stops and affricates are always fully voiced in conservative speech.
  • The dental fricatives /θ ð/ are often shifted to other positions.
    • /ð/ is shifted to [d̪] or even merged with /d/ in most dialects
    • /θ/ is merged with /f/ in a lot of lower-class speech. Generally, /θ/ is preserved in its original form (as [θ]) much more widely than /ð/.
    • /θ ð/ are preserved as [θ ð] not only in conservative speech, but also in most educated speech
  • The placeless nasal /ɴ/ only exists in middle-class and lower-class speech as a merger of coda-position /m/, /n/ and /ŋ/ when no consonant follows
    • Conservative speech preserves /m/, /n/ and /ŋ/ fully intact, as [m], [n] and [ŋ]
    • Word-final /ɴ/ is vocalized to [ʊ̯̃] or [ʏ̯̃], forming nasal diphthongs. Otherwise, it assimilates to the following stop, becoming [m] before labial consonants, [ŋ] before velar consonants, [n] before all the other consonants.
  • /r/ is realized in multiple ways, depending on the envorniment
    • In Standard Etrandish - as well as in the dialect of Western Etrand -, /r/ is realized as an...
      • apico-alveolar trill [r̺] word-initially and when geminated
      • apico-alveolar / retroflex flap [ɾ̺~ɽ] medially when not geminated
      • pharyngealized alveolar / retroflex approximant [ɹˤ~ɻˤ] in the syllable coda
    • In several dialects, things are different:
      • in Northern Etrand, the Guttural R [ʀ~ʁ~ʁ̞~χ] reign supreme.
      • In Southern Etrand, /r/ is consistently realized as a post-alveolar / retroflex approximant [ɹ̠~ɻ] and may or may not be elided when no vowel follows (non-rhotic), based on speaker preference (speakers who elide the final /r/ pronunce /ər/ as [ɐ]).
      • In the Eastern Mountains, /r/ is realized as an alveolar / uvular trill [r~ʀ] consistenly. The flap and approximant are never used.
    • Non-humans will usually pronounce /r/ as in their native, non-human languages:
      • Dwarves realizing /r/ as a uvular trill [ʀ]
      • Halflings realizing /r/ as either an alveolar tflap [ɾ] or a uvular trill [ʀ], depending on the context.
      • Lizardmen realizing /r/ as a retroflex approximant [ɻ].


This is about Standard Etrandish phonology. If you want to read about dialects, see Etrandish dialects.


Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close Long uː*
Short ɪ ʏ ʊ
Mid Long (ɛː) (ɔː)
Short ɛ œ (ə) ɔ
Open Long
Short ɑ (ɒ)
  • Unlike /ʊ/, /uː/ isn't entirely back, and tends to be centralized to a certain degree [uː~ʉː]. Some speakers may go as far as fronting /uː/ to [yː], especially after palatal(ized) consonants.
  • The status of the schwa [ə] as a phoneme is questionable, because it only appears before non-prevocalic /r/. Rather than a separate phoneme /ə/, it can be also interpreted as the allophone of /ɛ/ and /œ/ before non-prevocalic /r/, creating a completementary distribution.
    • /ɑ/ is also pronounced as [ə] when it's preceeded by another vowel (forming a vowel cluster) and proceded by a non-prevocalic /r/.
    • In Standard Etrandish, and all dialects other than Northern Etrandish, the vowels /ɪ ʏ ʊ/ are also merged into the / realized as a schwa [ə] before non-prevocalic /r/. The long vowels /iː yː uː/ become centralizing diphthongs [iə̯ yə̯ uə̯] before non-prevocalic /r/, while in the same context, the second element of the diphthongs /eɪ̯ øʏ̯ oʊ̯/ gets replaced by a schwa [eə̯ øə̯ oə̯].
    • The cluster /ər/ usually coalesced into an R-coloured vowel [ɚ] when it's not followed by any vowels.
  • The vowels /ɒ/, /ɔː/ and /ɛː/ only exist before /r/ and /l/
  • /ɑ/ is primarily pronounced as [ɑ] or [ɑ̈], but also has the following allophones:
    • [ɒ] before coda-position /r/ and /l/
    • [ɔ] before coda-position clusters /lt/ and /ld/
    • [ɐ] in diphthongs, word-finally, and also in vowel clusters following /ɪ/, /ʏ/, /ʊ/, /ɛ/ or /ɔ/. in other words, /ɪɑ ʏɑ ʊɑ ɛɑ ɔɑ/ are pronounced as [ɪɐ ʏɐ ʊɐ ɛɐ ɔɐ].
      • The clusters /ɪɑr ʏɑr ʊɑr ɛɑr ɔɑr/ are pronounced as [ɪəɹ ʏəɹ ʊəɹ ɛəɹ ɔəɹ] or [ɪɚ ʏɚ ʊɚ ɛɚ ɔɚ] when they aren't being followed by a vowel.
  • In Standard Etrandish - and other dialects that realize non-prevocalic /r/ as some kind of approximant, rather than a flap, trill or fricative - non-prevocalic /r/ tends to coalesce with vowels that precede it, creating R-coloured vowels, allowing for the realization of /ər ɑr ɔr ɛːr ɔːr eɪr øʏr oʊr iːr yːr uːr/ as [ɚ ɒ˞ ɔ˞ ɛ˞ː ɔ˞ː eɚ̯ øɚ̯ oɚ̯ iɚ̯ yɚ̯ uɚ̯].


Fronted Backed
Close ʊɪ̯
Mid eɪ̯ øʏ̯ oɪ̯ oʊ̯
Open ɐɪ̯ ɐʊ̯
  • Standard Etrandish - and all other dialects that realize non-prevocalic /r/ as some kind of approximant, rather than a flap, trill or fricative - also has some extra dipththongs, though they are allophones of a vowel (or dipththong) followed by non-prevocalic /r/:
    • The /eɪr øʏr oʊr iːr yːr uːr/ are respectively realized as either [eə̯ɹ øə̯ɹ oə̯ɹ iə̯ɹ yə̯ɹ uə̯ɹ] or [eɚ̯ øɚ̯ oɚ̯ iɚ̯ yɚ̯ uɚ̯]. The clusters /ɛɑr œɑr ɔɑr ɪɑr ʏɑr ʊɑr/ are respectively pronounced as /ɛə̯ɹ œə̯ɹ ɔə̯ɹ ɪə̯ɹ ʏə̯ɹ ʊə̯ɹ/ or /ɛɚ̯ œɚ̯ ɔɚ̯ ɪɚ̯ ʏɚ̯ ʊɚ̯/.
  • In lower-class and middle-class speech, the nasal diphthongs [ɑʊ̯̃ əʏ̯̃~əʊ̯̃ ɛʏ̯̃ œʏ̯̃ iʏ̯̃ ɔʊ̯̃ uʊ̯̃] exist too, as allophones of /ɑɴ əɴ ɛɴ œɴ ɪɴ ɔɴ ʊɴ/
    • /ɴ/ does not exist in conservative speech. Conservative speech preserves /m/, /n/ and /ŋ/ fully intact, as [m], [n] and [ŋ]
    • Even in most non-conservative speech, /ɴ/ only exists word-finally


Middle Etrandish was a subject-verb-object and synthetic language, although now with analytical elements.


Number Singular Plural
nominative - (-i)
genitive -(e)n -(i)n

The various cases had the following functions:

  • The nominative case historically marked the subject of the sentence, but now that cases have fallen out of use, it is safer to assume that nominative can mark anything, if the correct preposition is used before the said word.
  • The genitive case - which has largerly fallen out of use, replaced by the preposition "ven" - marks ownership. For example, "Etranden Réct" means "(the) Kingdom of Etrand". "Réct ven Etrand" also means "Kingdom of Etrand".

The dative case of Middle Etrandish has completely fallen out of use, even in formal speech. The genitive case - for regular nouns, that is - is preserved only in formal speech, especially written documents.


Person First Second Third
Number Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Case / Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative ai aye fo fe he se kem se
genitive mae mayen fon fen haen sena ken sen
  • While the genitive case has largely fallen out of use for regular nouns, it is still preferred and mandatory for pronouns. For example, "Réct ven Ai" is not valid. Only "mae Réct" (my Kingdom).


Simple Continuous
Past -yl -ilm
Present -ir -ér
Future -ei -enj
  • The infinitive is marked by -ir, just like Present Simple.
  • Adding an extra -(e)r at the end turns the verb perfect. An example:
    • "seffir" means "to make someone}}.omething beautiful". It is in Present Simple.
    • "seffei" is the same verb, but in Future Simple instead. For example, "you will make her beautiful".
    • "seffeier" is the same verb, but in Future Perfect instead. For example, "you will have made her beautiful".
  • For passive voice, the prefix "á" is added to the beginning of a verb. For example, "wisenghir" means "to sacrifice" - "áwisenghir" means "to be sacrificed".


Adjectives have three forms in Etrandish:

  • Normal adjective: -en
  • Comparitive adjective: -ener
  • Superlative adjective: -enei


Adverbs have three forms in Etrandish:

  • Normal adverb: -eten
  • Comparitive adverb: -arten
  • Superlative adverb: -eng

Inclusive or vs Exclusive or

Etrandish distinguishes between the "inclusive or" and the "exclusive or". The earlier means, "either A, B, or both of them", while the latter means "either A or B, but not both of them - never both of them".

  • The word for the inclusive or is 「ze」
  • The word for the exclusive or is 「ho」

In casual speech, the distinction between the inclusive or and exclusive or has grown blurred, with the majority of speakers using the two interchangeably in informal speech. In formal speech - and written text - however, it becomes mandatory to make a distinction and use them correctly.


  • ves: that
  • vaer: this
  • vit: the (definite article)
  • kyl: for

See also